Like every day in Peru, our last day exceeded expectations. We flew from Cuzco back to Lima and bused directly from the airport to the home of Peru’s most acclaimed textile artist, Máximo Laura. A longtime friend and associate of ArtAndes owner Melanie Ebertz, Laura gave us a tour of his workshop, where he employs about 15 weavers, and his personal collection of richly colored and textured wall hangings.
Laura grew up in the same mountainous Ayachuco area as Wilbur Quispe, and he likewise suffered persecution during Peru’s civil war with the Shining Path in the 1980s and ’90s. The government imprisoned him as a suspected Marxist, but when the war wound down, he took up weaving (as had four generations of his family before him) and raised it to an artform.
Moving beyond the natural dyes and fibers of his ancestors, Laura used modern synthetic threads and bright colors to give new life to his people’s legends and dreams. Over the past 15 years, museums around the world have exhibited and honored his textile art, including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington. Still, he was as friendly and humble with us as every other Peruvian, patiently explaining his work, selling some of the smaller pieces to us at great discount, signing autographs and posing for pictures. After weeks in the soaring Andes Mountains, we ended our trip back at sea level – yet at the pinnacle of Peru’s weaving culture.
Slide show produced by Mike Dorsher. Photos by Mike Dorsher, Sharon Kessler, Brita Dallmann and Jeff Nistler.